Airbus seems to love to give good deals to hard luck cases.
Swissair, Sabena, UsAir, United, America West.... all have the Buss's as a major part of their fleet. We havnt seen to many sizeable all or mostly Boeing carriers get into that much trouble.
My guess is that Boeing saw the writting on the wall and refused to give these guys truly competitive deals. Instead, they save their muscle in order to compete for orders from the likes of Ryanair and other healthy carriers.
Both Boeing and Airbus will make "loss-leader" (or almost "loss-leader') sales. Its just that Airbus seems to do it more often and it seems to offer these deals to less financially stable carriers under questionable management. The only killer deal that I can remember Boeing has offered to a carrier in major trouble is the 717 deal with Airtran/Valuejet. And they are a very rare and special case. They were launch customers and also the sole customer of a slow selling line. Yet they were small enough that Boeing's investment could make a difference.
When these carriers shrink or fail - the used planes will go on the market and depress the prices Airbus can receive from those who DO pay them real money for aircraft. While the more healthy carriers Boeing sells to pick up the slack.
Methinks this practice will eventually come back to bite Airbus
. There is a good chance that if Airbus gives A-380s to United for the price of an A-330 as they are apparantly doing with Emirates - the ships will eventually end up in the desert and Airbus will end up competing with its own products. And any money Airbus put in the company in the form of discounts, financing, etc. goes down the drain. This may happen with UsAir, America West and/or United's A320's. In fact, their are only two "safe" airbus fleets in the US that I can think of - JetBlue and Northwest. For Airbus's sake I hope this is enough to keep them profitable in the US market.